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NASCAR: Joey Logano passes Brad Keselowski on last lap to win at Atlanta

Brad Keselowski came one lap short of winning his first race in two years as Joey Logano made the winning move on the final lap.

ATLANTA — In traditional super speedway fashion, a winner was not decided at NASCAR's race at Atlanta until the final lap.

Joey Logano capped off a dominant day at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a victory. Logano led 141 laps on the day but had to get around Brad Keselowski on the final lap of the race to pull off the win.

Keselowski grabbed the lead after the race's final caution when leader Aric Almirola wrecked and stayed up front for over 40 laps in the event's final moments. Keselowski was looking for his first win since April 2021 and weaved across lanes to block traffic in the closing laps but Logano got a big push from Christopher Bell to push him to the front.

This was the third try at the revamped Atlanta track. Last year, the intermediate track was revolutionized when the track was repaved and reconfigured to make racing closer. The results were a record-setting 46 lead changes in the March 2022 race and a wreck-filled July 2022 race. The first Atlanta race in 2023 proved to be slightly less eventful but still provided tight racing.

Logano seemed to have the car to beat the whole race. He started on the pole and led every lap of the first stage. Austin Cindric and Ryan Blaney followed close behind signaling a strong start for Team Penske.

Despite the close racing, things ran mostly single-file early on leaving little room for on-track incidents. The only caution in the first two stages was called for a Bubba Wallace spin on lap 19. 

Kyle Busch started out front to begin stage two due to some pit strategy but Logano jumped back to the lead within 10 laps. 

Blaney set himself way back with a speeding penalty during green flag pit stops. After serving a pass-through penalty, Blaney was trapped multiple laps down and seemingly out of contention.

Logano continued to lead after pit stops but the lead drivers hit a pack of lapped cars during the final lap of stage two that shuffled the running order, leaving room for Cindric to steal the stage win.

Almirola gained the lead under caution by not taking tires. As racing resumed, the field stayed double-file as drivers started fighting harder for position.

Eventually, Kevin Harvick found his way to the top spot. Harvick was looking to return to victory lane at the track where he picked up his emotional first NASCAR Cup Series win. But, it wasn't to be as Ross Chastain was positioned behind Harvick and messed with the air around the car, causing the No. 4 to spin. Harvick collected Chris Buescher, William Byron, and Josh Berry in the wreck. The crash relegated Byron to a 32nd-place finish and ended his chances to win three races in a row.

Almirola's tires finally gave out with around 50 laps to go as he wrecked from the lead and collected Kyle Larson, who was running 2nd. Almirola slammed the wall and Larson spun around the track, collecting Justin Haley and Daniel Suárez in the crash.

Credit: AP
Kyle Larson (5) slides across the track after a wreck with Aric Almirola during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Hampton, Ga. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Keselowski led from there and did a good job in the closing laps of holding off drivers on the inside and outside rows. Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, and even Blaney became the drivers challenging to get around Keselowski as the laps were winding down.

Logano found himself leading the inside row as the white flag waved and got a big push from Bell to take the lead and the win. 

Credit: AP
Joey Logano celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Hampton, Ga. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Keselowski, Bell, Corey LaJoie, and Reddick rounded out the top five. Blaney ended with an impressive seventh. 

Next week, NASCAR heads to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on Sunday for the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix.  


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